Public hospitals to trial external accreditation
Authority to support upgrades
The Hospital Authority is to provide extra resources to three public hospitals that will join a pilot external accreditation scheme early next year.
Hospital Authority director for quality and safety Leung Pak-yin said the authority would set up a special team to support the participating hospitals, which would be monitored by an accreditation authority yet to be chosen.
'We will put extra resources into the three hospitals to achieve the accreditation and they can serve as models to others,' Dr Leung said.
Public hospitals in the city are subject only to self-assessment, while private hospitals subject themselves to international schemes such as Australian Council on Healthcare Standards, Britain's Trent Accreditation Scheme and The Joint Commission in the United States.
Assessments look at patient safety, service outcomes, patient records, handling of medical incidents and staff training. Public hospitals, with limited resources and growing patient loads, have been criticised for long waiting times and blunders.
Five public hospitals volunteered to join the programme and three will be chosen as pioneers. The five are: Queen Mary Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Tuen Mun Hospital, Caritas Medical Centre and Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital.
United Christian Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital will not join the first round of accreditation as they are being redeveloped.
After the scheme, the authority hopes that the major hospital in each of the seven clusters of hospitals will join the programme first.
Dr Leung said a global tender would be launched this month to hire an external accreditation authority.
He said such accreditation could help local hospitals improve quality. 'In the future, we hope that we can have our own accreditation centre so we can bring up the quality of services in the whole region.'
The government wants to introduce universal quality assurance to the 44 public and 12 private hospitals in the city. The cost will be about HK$1,000 per bed.
Public Doctors' Association acting president Ho Pak-leung said that while doctors supported the scheme, they worried that it might bring extra work. 'The authority has to reassure frontline workers that the exercise will not create an extra workload for them as many doctors are already overburdened. There should be a designated team to take care of administrative work as accreditations always involve lots of paperwork.'
Private Hospitals' Association president Alan Lau Kwok-lam said two of his association's hospitals would also participate in the scheme - one big hospital with about 700 to 800 beds, such as St Teresa's or Baptist, and a small hospital with fewer than 100 beds such as Evangel Hospital or Central Hospital.
'We want to know if the accreditation system can apply to not only big hospitals, but also the small ones because their operations and support are so different.'